Our pals at WoW Insider have obtained a page from Walmart's Release Playbook concerning World of Warcraft's new expansion, The Burning Crusade. Though the page itself is somewhat dated ("December 27is so last year, Joystiq"), the information reveals a sign of confidence in Blizzard as a major source of revenue for the big box retailer.
The Playbook page cites figures from an unspecified source that 90% of current WoW players intend on purchasing the expansion, with 75% purchasing within the initial 10 days. The document also notes that, of the then-7.5 million players of the MMO, 450,000 of them purchased their copy from Wal-Mart. Assuming they can keep up with the supply (eBay bidders seem to think otherwise), repeat customers tally approximately 303,750 in sales for the first 10 days, with 405,000 total expected. More generally, Wal-Mart expects The Burning Crusade to sell 5 million in the first 10 days and at least 6.75 million in its lifetime. Holy Market Value, Batman!
To this end, the Wal-Mart playbook page outlines that 2,008 stores have been selected, based on sales data of the original WoW, to receive at least one half-pallet containing 60 copies of The Burning Crusade. Those packages were noted to arrive January 8 in stores and amount to at least 120,480 in expected first-day sales. Wal-Mart has told its stores to release the product to the masses at 12:01 a.m. January 16, so if you have a pre-sell card (or just hope to be lucky), then you better expect a midnight-sale camp-out of console release proportions.